The war against Christmas — at least when it comes to spending the day with loved ones — has come to the halls of Congress. A casualty of the payroll tax standoff? Holiday vacation plans.
All those White House and congressional staffers who booked flights and getaways are in limbo while Republicans and Democrats battle over the bill extension.
“Our Republican strategy is pretty simple, we’re going to stay here and get the work done now,” Texas Rep. Kevin Brady declared Wednesday.
President Obama already delayed his trip to Hawaii and it’s unclear when he’ll join his family. “We are obviously in a pretty fluid situation,” press secretary Jay Carney told reporters Wednesday.
But at least Obama decides when his plane takes off. Worker-bee staffers are at the mercy of a congressional vote and airline schedules.
Congress is in what’s known as a pro-forma session, which means they haven’t adjourned, but members can leave until called back. Many lawmakers slipped out of town Tuesday night, so they’ll be home for Christmas Day. The question is whether they’ll have to race back to D.C. next week for a vote.
But Brady and seven other GOP members named to a committee to hammer out a deal are stuck in D.C. — and their staffs are, too. Those who live within driving distance might make it home in time to open presents. “It will be a game-time decision,” said a spokesman for New York Rep. Tom Reed. The rest are pretty much out of luck.
Last summer, both Sen. Max Baucus and Rep. Loretta Sanchez postponed their honeymoons to tackle the debt crisis. Unclear, though, if Brian Fallon has a contingency plan for next week — when the spokesman for the always-chatty Sen. Chuck Schumer is scheduled to get married.
“I’d rather not comment on it,” he told us.
— Read also: “Pressure mounts on House GOP over payroll tax measure," 12/21/11; “Members of Congress too busy for honeymoons," 9/6/2011.